2 Attacks Latest In Violence at Pr. George's Jail

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Within the past month, a Department of Corrections officer at the Prince George's County jail was critically injured during a fight with a detainee, and in a separate incident, an inmate used a homemade shank to stab another inmate during a fight in a lockdown section of the facility.

The injured officer was not immediately provided with medical care, and three days later was admitted to a hospital in critical condition, according to law enforcement sources and court records.

The stabbing occurred in a housing unit in which only one inmate at a time is supposed to be out of his cell. One of the inmates in the fight disabled the lock on his cell door to go after the other inmate, a jail source said.

Vicki D. Duncan, a jail spokeswoman, declined to comment on the stabbing and did not respond to an e-mail and a phone call about the attack on the officer. John Erzen, a spokesman for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), said officials had no comment because the incidents are under investigation.

The attacks are the latest in a series of troubling incidents affecting the Upper Marlboro jail this year.

Authorities are investigating the death of Ronnie L. White, an inmate who was found dead in his cell in June, less than 48 hours after he was charged with killing a county police officer. The state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

Also that month, then-Department of Corrections Director Alfred J. McMurray Sr. was fired two days after officials discovered that four handguns were missing from the jail's armory. The handguns have not been recovered.

In March, three jail officers were suspended amid an investigation into allegations that guards conspired to smuggle cellphones to inmates. One of the suspended guards was suspected of being a member of the Bloods street gang, according to court papers.

The attack on the corrections officer, Cpl. Onur Cinar, occurred about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 1, according to court records.

According to a police charging document, inmate Levar D. Payton, 23, of the District became involved in an argument over property that was being issued to him as he was being reclassified and moved to another part of the jail.

Cinar ordered Payton to move along, and when the inmate refused, the officer tried to escort him from the area, according to the charging document. Payton punched Cinar in the face, and the officer fell to the ground, injuring his head, according to the charging document.

Payton was charged with first- and second-degree assault on Cinar.

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